The power of a graceful "no"

Courage is grace under pressure.
- Ernerst Hemmingway

You are presented on a daily basis with all kinds of new great opportunities. Often we tend to be blindsided by them and start grabbing  every single one that we can and see what sticks. The problem with this is that you are juggling with 5 or more projects at once, which none of them are giving you what you want. Added to the fact that you are doing the minimum progress on all of them, while getting stressed out of your mind. As well I doubt you are doing 5 projects which you are passionate about, that’s because you’re not. Instead you could be only working on 1 MAIN project which you are passionate and the reward from completing that project will be 10x bigger than all of those other 5 miscellaneous projects combined. The rewards don’t stop there. The success curve of your singular project skyrockets and the likelihood of you actually getting the benefits/results you wanted in the first place are now 10x bigger once again.
Saying no when you are presented with what would seem like a ”good” opportunity is a hard thing to do. But the reason why it might be wise to do so, is so you wouldn’t be passing on something much more valuable, a ”great” or a ”once in a life time” opportunity. This might seem like wishful thinking but it really isn’t, only if you turn it in to that.
We are dealing and taking ”good” and not so ”good” opportunities on a daily basis: Saying yes to go out with an old high school friend, saying yes to that temporary job just because we are feeling insecure of our financial status, saying yes just becouse we can fit it in to our calendar. These are just a few, sounds familiar?
The solution to our dilemma is actually just saying gracefully ”no”.
Here are 4 simple steps on helping your decision.
  1. Focus on the trade-off
The more we think about what we giving up when saying yes to someone, the easier it is to say no. Having a clear sense of the oppurtunity cost – in other words the value of what we are giving up. Makes it that much easier to say no.
  1. Make your peace with the fact that saying ”no” often requires trading popularity for respect.
When saying no to someone, there is usually a short-term impact on the relationship. Thats because when getting rejected the immediate reaction is normally frustration, disappointment or even anger. But after the initial feeling wears of, we notice our selves respecting the other individual. That’s because we show people that our time is highly valuable to us. This distinguishes the professional from the amateur.
  1. Remember that a clear ”no” can be more graceful than a vague or noncommittal ”yes”
If you have ever been on the other receiving end of this situation, you know, a clear ”I’m going to pass on this” is far better than not getting back to someone or saying ”I might be able to” when you know you can’t. And no, being vague on your answer is not graceful, and delaying the inevitable ”no” is only going to make the recipient that much more resentful.
  1. Separate the decision from the relationship
Often when people ask us to do something we mix the request with our relationship with them. Remember that denying the request does not mean denying the person himself.
Sometimes the best way of saying ”no” is just bluntly saying ”no”. But there are more graceful ways of saying that. For example: I’m flattered that you thought of me but right now I’m just overcommitted. There’s a variety of ways of saying ”no” without actually saying ”no”
So think about these things you have now read the next time you are presented with a new ”opportunity” and ask yourself: Is this really driving me towards my goals? After answering that question, you can make your decition.


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